Archive for the ‘Self Love’ Category

Putting a Bow on 2012

This year wasn’t great for blogging, but it has been amazing for the tag-line (“Learning to Love and Cherish My Body From the Inside Out”).

And it’s probably fair to say that it wasn’t a great year for the waistline, either; but that’s beside the point. Because I’m not caring about that as much as I did in, well, every year in my entire life up until now.

Last June, I was a wreck. I hated my job. I hated my body. I was tired and grumpy. I was not in a good place.

I started reading all kinds of books about people who had finally kicked their bad relationships with food – people who were in way worse shape than I was (or ever had been) who had learned to trust their bodies, to really tune in, and, eventually, with seemingly little effort, get down to their ideal weight by eating not whatever they wanted, but whatever their bodies wanted.

I had tried this before and I had never quite gotten out of my head.

This year has been more about inner game than counting calories.

I’ve spent way more time learning how to be present, how to actually listen to the inner wisdom of my body, to trust myself, to forgive myself…. To love myself.

It’s getting better, but it’s not perfect. I still have shitty days and, notably, those days are all more poignant because now I have something – something good, something calm, and something serene – with which to compare them. The discrepancies are more real, but the downward spirals are shorter. I still fall off the wagon, but the damage that I inflict on myself (my body) – what one of my coaches refers to as “self-torture” (she doesn’t pull any punches, does she?) – doesn’t last nearly as long. It’s progress.

Do I still look in the mirror and cringe?

Maybe.

Sometimes.

Not all that often. Well, at least not anymore…..

However, when it does  happens, I look deep into my eyes and realize that there really is something more to me than the numbers on the scale (that I no longer look at), the size of my jeans (which still have the ability Рat least for a few moments Рto cause tears), or the shape of my now middle aged body.

I’ve also realized that age is just as insidious an opponent as weight. In fact, it’s the age I’m feeling more than the weight these days, even though I appreciate that they are close sisters (and twin topics for another post at a later date).

For the most part, I am grateful that I am alive. I am grateful that I live in this body that – with the exception of a faulty thyroid and an exhausted set of adrenals (but then again, whose fault is that?) – functions pretty darn well given the circumstances.

I’ve surrendered, finally. Mainly because I realized that surrendering is not the same as giving up. It’s not the same as giving in.

It’s about letting go.

It’s about learning to fall in love with the process of being skinny (or at my ideal healthy weight) without getting attached to the outcome.

It’s about putting a ham hock in the split pea soup if my body feels like it. It’s about finally appreciating the fact that my body really doesn’t like sugar. I thought she did, but that was my brain. Because after three weeks on sugar, followed by three days off, it is clear to me what people have always said, but that I didn’t want to believe: Sugar is a drug.

Perhaps my biggest insight of 2012: Sugar makes me crazy; it makes me paranoid; it makes me compulsive; it interferes with my ability to think, to write, and to function. Sugar, now, is in the same category as gluten (which gives me migraines) and alcohol (which can, in amounts of more than a glass or two [and I’m talking wine, not liquor]) leave me down for the count for a matter of days. Sugar won’t kill me – not like the gluten – but it is something not to be toyed with or taken lightly. It’s a drug; period.

It’s about dancing with my body instead of trying to beat her into submission. It’s about drawing her outline on a piece of butcher paper and seeing her, for the first time ever, as a work of art as opposed to a work in progress.

So here are the things that I’ve been working with and that will be kept moving forward in 2013:

  1. Get up every morning and have a cup of lemon water.
  2. Write a morning journal entry setting my intention for the day (and bookending that with a similar entry every night).
  3. Do some form of physical activity (including going for a walk outside for at least  15 minutes) everyday.
  4. Eat what my body wants to eat and feed my mind what it really wants – which are ideas and other forms of stimulation than food.
  5. Listen to my cravings; greet them, if you will, and understand that they (like my emotions) are trying to tell my something about myself.
  6. Experience my emotions; witness them and then let them go.
  7. Only eat things that I absolutely love.
  8. Slow down (this is still one that I struggle with, but there are signs of improvement).
  9. Be in touch with my body; when something’s no longer working (whether it’s food or exercise or pleasure), do something else.
  10. Quiet my mind at least once a day.
  11. Do yoga.
  12. Drink more water.
  13. Breathe – consciously and with intention.
  14. Acknowledge the things around me that can’t be seen.
  15. Pray.
  16. Learn to connect without food; even if that means reaching out to someone who I think may have better things to do than to keep me from feeling lonely.
  17. Mix things up – on all levels, as often as possible; experience the unexpected.
  18. Embody my own vision of love, which means being both expansive and forgiving.
  19. Practice gratitude.
  20. And, the most difficult and important obligation of all: to love myself, regardless.

These are not New Year’s resolutions – destined to be forgotten before Valentine’s Day. These are the steps that I’ve been incorporating into my life on a daily basis already. (So, you can see why I haven’t had all that much time for the blog.) These twenty – plus a few others that I have probably forgotten about – are the things that I’ve tried that are currently working for me. They may stop working at any moment – and if they do, it’s up to me to change that. But they also may not stop working – and if they don’t (stop, that is) it’s also up to me to keep doing them, for better or worse, in sickness and in health…. Even if I’m teaching and exhausted.

Next year, I come first. I am my number one priority. Come hell or high water I am putting my own mask on first. Selfish?

Maybe, but not really.

Because if I can take care of myself, I can take care of others. And spare those around me from the nightmare that was my emotional life last March and, let’s face it, every month between then and June. If I love myself first and foremost, I will be able to love others fully and without reservation.

A friend recently reminded me that Westerners like to cite the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. However, they/we/I rarely appreciate the flip side of that: Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.

As I let those words sink in, I realized (not for the first time) that I would never abuse or neglect someone else the way I have abused and neglected myself over the years. That – more than anything else – has been the hardest lesson to learn and the one, if truly embodied, will undoubtedly make the biggest difference not only to my body, but to my entire being.

So, that said, what are my New Year’s Resolutions (ones that hopefully will not be forgotten by Valentine’s Day)?

  1. Take better care of myself (and all that entails).
  2. Blog more.
  3. Write a book (I’m thinking a cookbook for starters).
  4. Be happier more of the time.
  5. Love.

Happy New Year.

Advertisements

My Love for You is…Skin Deep?

I had an epiphany the other day, one that I think is worth sharing, because there was someone there with me, who had a similar insight.

Setting: Burke Williams Day Spa in Santa Monica, CA.
Activity: Getting a facial.

The attendant, whose name was Laura was asking me a slew of questions as she did wonderful things to my face. (It was sort of like drinking a water after a particularly long drought. I didn’t realize how dry my skin was until I gave it something to drink).

She started off by asking about what kind of moisturizer I use.

Simple: I don’t.

That didn’t phase her.

Toner?

I frowned beneath her talented hands: I don’t do anything for my face. I wash it in the shower, without any sort of cleanser, and that’s about it.

She paused and asked, “How old are you?”

I told her.

“Wow,” she said, and proceeded to tell me all of the reasons that a woman my age, especially one who isn’t living in beautiful southern California should be taking care of her skin. At least to the point of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

As she went on and on and on, I realized something.

I had always coded facials and skin care products as optional, as luxurious, as uber-expensive, and overly feminine. I had always believed that women who took care of their skin (using product after product) were vain and, let’s be honest, shallow. (I realize that these are some of the stereotypes that I used to hold about skinny women as well, but that’s another post). I had essentially coded facials and skin care as not me.

But then I realized something. And it seems so simple that it’s almost too embarrassing to write, but here it goes.

The skin is the largest organ in the body. It protects me from the environment. It is literally the layer that keeps out the toxins and filters the internal toxins out through sweat, etc. My skin is part of my body.

My entire life, up until that moment, my idea of loving my body – or at the very least, taking care of it – was limited to diet and exercise. Everything else, including skin care, was optional. Read: unimportant.

Laying on the table with steam blowing on my face and a near scalding towel around my neck, I recoded skin care and body care and since then, I have integrated a new routine into my self-care.

Now, skin care products are still expensive, but it’s amazing how much better I feel now that I am loving that part of my body as well. Not only is my skin softer and more supple, I feel ridiculously loved and cosseted.

And now that I am totally and completely addicted to skin care, I have to ask myself: Was it the skin care itself that I wasn’t willing to accept into my life, or was it the feelings that the skin care provided?